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game recap

Hurricanes stun Devils to win game 7

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:21 AM
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Hurricanes stun Devils to win game 7
Carolina Hurricanes 4, New Jersey Devils 3


Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer


NEWARK, N.J. -- Eric Staal was a great player long before his Carolina Hurricanes began their Eastern Quarterfinal matchup against the New Jersey Devils.


On Tuesday night, he gave hockey fans across the globe another example of what makes him so great.

Just 48 seconds after Jussi Jokinen erased a 3-2 deficit with 1:20 left in regulation, Staal propelled the 'Canes into the second round of the postseason as he beat Martin Brodeur with a wrist shot from the right circle to give Carolina a surreal 4-3 victory in Game 7 at the Prudential Center.

It was a Hollywood script ending to a series for the ages -- one that certainly wasn't short on breathtaking moments. It was also no surprise that Staal was there, front and center, to deliver a heroic ending that has the 'Canes heading to Boston to face the top-seeded Bruins in Round 2.

"I'll remember that one when it's all said and done," Staal said with a smile as wide as the nearby Hudson River. "That's one you keep in the memory bank. Now it only gets better from here. We'll go on to the second round and continue our season and play the Boston Bruins. We look forward to the challenge against them."

A challenge seems to always bring out the best in Staal, who burned the Devils in 2006 by scoring a game-tying goal in the playoffs with three seconds to go -- a match Carolina would go on to win in overtime. Three years later, he helped send the Devils packing again.

But this was a challenge that seemed insurmountable. New Jersey was literally 80 seconds away from advancing to a second-round matchup against the Washington Capitals -- who won Game 7 against the New York Rangers earlier in the night -- when Jokinen silenced the capacity crowd of 17,625 as he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Joni Pitkanen through Brodeur's legs to make it 3-3.

For those who thought that was unbelievable, they hadn't seen anything yet.

"It was pretty quiet after Jussi scored," Staal said. "We were on the bench and we were obviously the only ones pretty excited. When we went over the boards after that goal, we're like, 'Why not get another one?' It happened."

It sure did. A mishap in the neutral zone allowed Staal to get some separation, and he quickly took a pass from Chad LaRose in full stride. With time winding down and trying to avoid what would have been the third overtime of the series, Staal ripped a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Brodeur to the far side to make it 4-3 with just 31.7 seconds to go.

Just like that, Carolina's season went from over to far from it.

"It was probably the most ice I had in the whole game tonight," said Staal, who was shadowed pretty effectively by John Madden for much of the night. "I got a couple of quick strides with the puck and looked up and had some time. I got a good shot off on Marty."
One that could have renamed this state-of-the-art facility the Prudential Library. Everyone in attendance -- Staal included -- was shocked that his wrister found its way past the same goalie who had stopped all 44 shots he faced in Game 5.

"A little bit … I'm not going to lie," Staal said when asked if he was surprised that his shot went in. "He's a pretty good goaltender. I got a lot of shots on him in this series and he's made some big saves. Sometimes in those instant-reaction moments, you're not even thinking. It's pretty sweet."

In the other dressing room, it was beyond sour.

"It's shocking," Brodeur said. "I thought we did everything we could. We worked really hard in this game. Guys performed really well, and we have nothing to be ashamed about losing like that. It's definitely shocking and that is the bottom line, but we had them on the ropes. It's really disappointing."

In a way, it was also fitting. Not so much who won or who lost, but how this series came to an end. A series that had ups and downs, wild endings, dramatic goals. Maybe it would have been even more dramatic had the game included a fourth period.

Instead, though, one of the best players in the NHL added yet another great moment to his resume.

"You almost think that's the way it should be … the game should go to overtime," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "But the right guy had the puck.

"There's good players and there's great players. To get to be a great player, you have to be able to do those things in those moments. It'll be one of those moments that define his career. There's something special about people like that."

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.





With their team's season on the line, Carolina's trio of Rod Brind'Amour, Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov managed to keep puck in the Devils' zone for roughly a minute before Jokinen one-timed Joni Pitkanen's feed past Martin Brodeur to erase a 3-2 deficit with just 1:20 remaining in regulation.



Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, who kept his team in the game in the third period and thus allowed it to make a comeback.



Martin Brodeur was the Devils' best penalty killer during a 68-second two-man disadvantage in the second period. Brodeur, who looked uncomfortable early, made three tremendous saves during Carolina's power play to preserve New Jersey's 3-2 lead.



Brian Rolston's power-play goal at 8:47 of the second period was just New Jersey's third of the series in 25 opportunities.



It's not often that Martin Brodeur allows two goals in a 49-second span, but it came at the worst possible time as Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal beat the Devils' netminder to complete this remarkable feat.

scoring summary
1st Period
01:02
CAR
Tuomo Ruutu (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Matt Cullen (2), Dennis Seidenberg (3)
1 - 0 CAR
02:31
NJD
Jamie Langenbrunner (2) Snap shot - ASST: Zach Parise (3), Travis Zajac (3)
1 - 1 Tie
13:27
NJD
Jay Pandolfo (1) Backhand shot - ASST: John Madden (1), Brendan Shanahan (1)
2 - 1 NJD
2nd Period
03:42
CAR
Ray Whitney (3) Snap shot - ASST: Eric Staal (2), Chad LaRose (4)
2 - 2 Tie
08:47
NJD
PPG - Brian Rolston (1) Slapshot - ASST: Brian Gionta (3), Brendan Shanahan (2)
3 - 2 NJD
3rd Period
18:40
CAR
Jussi Jokinen (3) Snap shot - ASST: Joni Pitkanen (4), Tim Gleason (2)
3 - 3 Tie
19:28
CAR
Eric Staal (5) Wrist shot - ASST: Chad LaRose (5), Tim Gleason (3)
4 - 3 CAR
penalty summary
1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
01:23
CAR
Anton Babchuk  Tripping against  Zach Parise
07:58
CAR
Matt Cullen  Slashing against  Travis Zajac
10:47
NJD
Dainius Zubrus  Tripping against  Jussi Jokinen
11:39
NJD
Brendan Shanahan  Hooking against  Eric Staal
13:59
NJD
Zach Parise  Roughing against  Tim Gleason
17:20
CAR
Tim Gleason  Hi stick - double minor against  Zach Parise
3rd Period
08:09
NJD
Jamie Langenbrunner  Hooking against  Tim Gleason
12:58
CAR
Joni Pitkanen  Roughing against  Patrik Elias
12:58
NJD
Patrik Elias  Roughing against  Joni Pitkanen
goalie stats
Cam Ward
SA: 35TOI: 60:00
Saves: 32EV: 26 - 28
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 7
SV%: .914SH: 0 - 0
Martin Brodeur
SA: 31TOI: 59:33
Saves: 27EV: 22 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 5
SV%: .871SH: 0 - 0